AFTER nearly a three week break for the Mariners, they return to action in front of a full house at Boundary Park with over a thousand Town fans expected to travel to Lancashire for this relegation six pointer.
As most people will know by now, tickets are free at Boundary Park on Sunday thanks to the new consortium that has taken over Oldham Football Club following a torrid year that has seen them in administration for the most of it. The Mariner meanwhile, are in deep trouble of dropping into the relegation zone should results go against them on Saturday and they lose tomorrow. Also, needless to say, Paul Grovesâ€™ job is on the line.
John Sheridan (left) Been in charge of the club along with David Eyres since December, after the departure of Iain Dowie to Crystal Palace. Has instilled more confidence into the Latics after Dowieâ€™s last eight games in charge of the club didnâ€™t see the team win at all. His eight game record so far has seen him guide Athletic to two wins, four draws and two losses, and now has a decent shout to take the job until the end of the season.
The bad news for the Mariners is that Jamacian forward Jermaine Johnson (left), who tormented the Town defence on Boxing Day, this week signed an extension to his loan deal from Bolton Wanderers and will play. He has scored three goals in 11 games so far in his two month loan stay. Since Boxing Day, Stoke City central defender Gareth Owen has joined John Sheridanâ€™s side on a months loan deal. The 21 year old Welshman has put in some solid performances at the back and made his debut in a 1-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday a few weeks back. Two of Oldhamâ€™s most consistent performers over the past few years have been former Southampton midfielder Paul Murray and keeperâ€™ Les Pogliacomi who will both play on Sunday despite being in talks with a move to Crystal Palace this week. Good news for the Latics is that Pogliacomi has rejected a move to Selhurst Park, with Murray still undecided.
Town nearly have a fully fit squad for the trip to Oldham. Back are Darren Barnard, Tony Crane and Staurt Campbell. We expect that all three will go straight back into the starting eleven.
Definitely out is skipper John McDermott who is to have a hernia operation and Stacy Coldicott who was due to play a reserve game this week at York City, but was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
This means that Jason Crowe will move to right back with Tony Crane replacing Ford in the centre. Stuart Campbell could return to the right side of midfield at the expense of Iain Anderson, or could be moved into the centre with Nick Daws depending on whether the manager decides to play himself or Des Hamilton in the centre of the park.
Up front, we expect that Lee Thorpe will be given his debut and partner Michael Boulding.
Darren Mansaram should make the bench despite picking up a knock this week.
Calvin Zola, on loan from Newcastle could return to the Oldham lineup after playing half the game last week at Rushden. Though he faces a battle with top scorer Scott Vernon for a place alongside Jermaine Johnson. There were fears that Vernon had broken his jaw last week against Rushden, but he hasnâ€™t and will be fit enough to take his place in the squad.
Captain John Eyre is expected to return to the side after sitting out last week following suspension.
Ex-Town loanee David Beharall could make the bench, but has been injured of late and is out of match practice.
Probable Starting XI's
Some Interesting Facts...
If Paul Groves plays the side the Fishy has predicted, every one of his starting eleven except Phil Jevons have been signed by Groves.
There has never been a 0-0 draw between the two sides in when Town have been the away team since their first meeting in 1907...
Last Time Out
It was only just over a month ago that Town met Oldham of course, in a thrilling 3-3 draw on Boxing Day. Town played most of the game with 10 men after the dismissal of Tony Crane and managed to hold off pressure from Oldham to keep them at bay. Phil Jevons scored two goals, with one beautiful lob over the keepr in front of the Pontoon. Michael Boulding grabbed the other with Johnson, Vernon and Cooksey scoring for Oldham
Town Team: Davison, McDermott, Crane (sent off 16), Edwards, Barnard, Campbell, Hamilton (Cas, 77) , Pouton, Jevons, Onuora (Ford, 18) , Boulding (Mansaram, 68) Subs: (not used) Groves, Anderson
Goals: Jevons (9), Boulding (57), Jevons (76)
Oldham Team: Pogliacomi, Clegg, Hudson, Haining, Griffin, Eyre, Murray, Boshell ( Eyres, 74) , Cooksey ( Roca, 88) , Johnson, Zola ( Vernon, 68)
Subs: (not used) Westwood, Daniel Hall Goals: Johnson (19), Cooksey (32), Vernon (73)
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